Blog 3: Why do we waste perfectly good food?

Nobody wants to eat the mushy apple or the banana that has gone brown. Most people stay clear of fruit and vegetables that have reached the end of their peak, but just because a fruit or vegetable has gone soft doesn’t mean it necessarily can’t be eaten. The National Resources Defense Council (NDRC) published a paper stating that 6 Billion pounds of perfectly good fruit and vegetables are wasted each year, just because they are ugly looking. 

When you take a step back and look at the amount of perfectly good food that goes to waste, you start to question how this could be. But the answer is all very clear, think about it. When you’re buying broccoli at the grocery store, why would you pick the lopsided, strangely colored one if there’s a beautiful, symmetrical broccoli tree right next to it?

Humans have the innate attraction to physically appealing things. Starting as young as two or three, human beings start to gravitate toward attractive things. The process of choosing attractive things is part of our biology, our genetic makeup. Additionally, individuals that live in western countries like our own have the misconception that strange looking food is bad. We live in a society that cares more about how food looks than what it actually tastes like. How many times have you heard a child say, “I’m not eating that, it looks weird.” Our biological makeup and tendencies to choose physically attractive things have caused more damage than we realize.

UNEP reports that 1.3 billion tons of food worldwide are wasted every year.  To put a visual to this, a small car weighs about 1 ton.  That’s like saying that we waste 1.3 billion Toyota Prius’s worth of food every year.

So what can we do about this? Tristram Stuart addresses the issue of the massive amount of waste of “unappealing” food. Stuart calls for “a more responsible use of global resources” in his TED Talk by suggesting ways in which we can make fruits and vegetables physically attractive for a longer period of time. By making them more attractive for longer, we can make the food last for longer and reduce the amount of wasted food.

As I begin researching for my Food Reduction Waste App, one thing is very clear. It is our intention to create an app that helps to reduce the amount of food waste and the need for an app like ours is vital at a time like this.